Monday, June 20, 2011

BLOODY NEW ZEALAND! Tales from Auckland

You can't see the outer layer of my leg is missing along with my right butt Cheek scared up!!!

Three weeks ago I signed up for a 10k road race in Auckland, New Zealand, just excited at the chance to race in another country. I didn’t know about the course or the people that had previously raced it, but I knew that the winner had run 33:59 in 2010 so I had a chance at winning. As the day would unfold I would be able to add running up a volcano twice, running through rain and mud, and having a session with medical workers to my list of things done while in New Zealand.
                The day prior to the race I decided it would be best to run from my hostel, to the race site so that I knew exactly how to get there the morning of the race. Sun was actually shining, I had just awoken from a nap and I hit the road in route for “western springs park”. After making it about 2.5 miles the roof just opened up from above and the rain just came by the buckets. All in all I ended up running 7.6 miles in order to find this park and run back in the torrential downpour. The night prior to the race I would once again wake up at 4am and fail to fall back asleep. After my flight through the night directly to Auckland from perth, I managed to not even catch 1 minute of sleep and go right into the Auckland morning. I had been lacking sleep critically, as I have been laying down around 11pm and waking up between 3 and 4am every night. The night of the race was no exception, in fact I just decided to go downstairs and have a small breakfast before the udder fatigue just begin to set in.

                Arriving at the race most likely looking aged by 10 years I had a nice warm-up and the “Run Auckland” set up looked pretty legit surrounding the start/finish of the race. I tucked away my track suit behind some tents and made my way to the starting line realizing that I could not remember the last time I had actually put on deodorant because of all of this back and forth traveling haha. The gun blast off and people all fly out in front of me, but I take my time to aim in on the 2 front runners who have distanced themselves from the pack and pursue. We hit our 1st kilometer in 3:12 which was all gradual uphill, just a bit too fast for me but I was able to tuck in fairly comfortable. We passed 2k in a slower 3:19 distancing ourselves from 4th place by a good margin. I took the lead and began to push the pace just as we turned a corner to look at the wall that soon we would be running up. The course was on/around a dormant volcano so basically we had to run straight up the back side of this volcano twice for the 10k!!! After managing to get pretty heavily into oxygen debt the top 2 runners hit the 5k mark just in front of me while I was happily surprised to be a 16:53 with that climb.
                Now for the juicy part of the days racing! I had 2nd place in my sights as the eventual winner just broke both of us. This time we had to run around all of the 5k runners who were released 15 minutes after our race, what a chore! These people blocked the sidewalks completely so it was a zig zag for literally 5k which slowed all of us down and drained any extra energy that we could have had. As I approached the climb once again, my spirit was broken from the fantasy of winning, I could hear some foot steps behind me, then I heard breathing. Breathing from a little boy or a girl, holy crap! I knew that there was a local woman who had been winning some of the races overall in some pretty fast times but I didn’t think it could be her, it was of course. She just flew up the volcano with her short choppy strides while I looked like a freak extending my legs a bit too long and eventually I began a nice walking pace.           Once I got to the top the woman was almost out of sight, I passed the 2nd place guy who was bent over at the top of the hill and then heard someone quickly approaching. I found a heart somewhere inside and convinced myself to dig a little deeper and begin with some surges. I was making my way through the hundreds of 5k runners or walkers should I say. Jumping in the grass, sinking my feet into the wet muddy grass then back onto the sidewalk for a few brief steps before 2 more women completely blocked the sidewalk we were racing on. “Ok just 2k or so to go lets rock it man, don’t be a P^$$y, MAN UP!”. I am running downhill between all these people, I glance at my watch as the 9th k clicks and I am going 4:41 mile pace at this point, woooo. Now to just plan my maneuver ahead between the 5 women half walking and running on this slippery wet surface. “I can make it between them before I hit the power pole, Oh Sh*t, I can’t make it”. So I take a sharp cut right as if I was Barry Sanders and then that’s when all hell broke loose for me.
                I am bracing myself for this mega fall down hill on this rocky pavement, BOOM SKIIDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. I am sliding on my right side just ripping into my knee and then I basically collapse into two women from behind almost knocking them over. They are in a panic, screaming, “oh my god are you ok, oh no, oh no!!!”. The only thing I am thinking is, “this is going to hurt later but I am not going to lose my 3rd place, get up Chris!”. I pop up the best that I can and yell to the concerned women, “I will sort it out later!” and continue my onward drive to the finish. The guy behind me of course passes me on this stretch while I am gathering myself again so I pop in behind him. We hit the last 600m and we are running on wooden planks that can carry at the most 2 people wide and from all of the rain, the volcano surface has turned into mud and washed down onto the planks. We are slipping and sliding, at the verge of a fall at any moment, trying to dice between other 5k runners. We both slip off of the little wooden deck into the swampy mud but catch ourselves for one last blast to the finish 100m away. I know I have a lot more left in the tank so I roll past him to the line and wrap up my 3rd place.
                After the race I look down and see blood running down my leg and people begin asking if I am ok. The medics luckily were on hand and took me inside the ambulance to begin cleaning my wounds and wrapping them up. The outer skin layer of my anterior tib was pretty much removed completely and my knee has a few nice slices that will be some sweet war wounds to talk about in the future. After waiting around for 90 minutes for awards, they do not give anything out and I may point out that they provide no food at the finish, only one bottle of water! It was a long 3.5 mile walk back to my hostel with my leg all banged up and the on again off again showers. What an experience!!!! Up next is a hiking adventure over some snow capped mountains, hopefully I can stay on my feet!

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